Seattle Times editorial board to Seattle School Board: Work with, not fight, charter schools.

The latest roadblock to charter public schools in Seattle thrown up by the Seattle School Board has prompted an editorial rebuke from the Seattle Times. Last week, Seattle Public Schools voted to oppose a zoning request submitted by a charter public school. From the ST report last week,

In an attempt to inhibit the growth of charter schools, the Seattle School Board voted Wednesday to oppose a request to let one charter construct a larger building than city zoning rules allow.

The School Board’s resolution… is aimed at a new high school that the Green Dot charter-school network hopes to build within a few miles of Rainier Beach High, which is part of Seattle Public Schools. Green Dot needs a zoning variance from the city in order to build the three-story, 58,000 square-foot school on the site.

It’s not the school board’s decision to make; the city will either grant or deny the variance. The board’s action was gratuitous and telling. As the Seattle Times editorial board writes

Since Washington voters decided in 2012 to give charter schools a try, the Seattle school board has been fighting to stop them from offering an alternative public-school experience to Seattle parents.

The latest salvo in that battle — a vote last week to oppose a proposed zoning change to allow a new charter high school to open in south Seattle — looks like another desperate move by an organization fighting change.

Desperate opposition to change seems to be a pattern for some in our state. As we wrote in February when Judge John H. Chun found Washington’s charter public school law is constitutional,

Among the remarkable aspects of these unwarranted lawsuits from the WEA and its allies (several of which were denied standing by Judge Chun) is the energy and money spent in attacking a charter school law considered the best in the nation

It would be best for all concerned to let this be the last chapter in the saga. Let the decision stand and focus on improving public education for all students, those in traditional public schools and those in charter public schools.

That decision was appealed by the coalition of Washington Education Association and others. The state Supreme Court accepted the appeal and is expected to hear arguments in February or March. 

The ST editorial contrasts Seattle’s opposition to the approach taken in Spokane.

Instead of fighting the innovative new schools at every turn, Seattle Public Schools should have taken a page from the Spokane School District plan and worked with charter schools to provide quality options for students.

The editorial concludes with the essential point:

Parents have a right to vote with their feet and send their children to whatever school best meets their needs, from the public school down the block, to a private school miles away or a new charter alternative nearby.

The school district should not limit those choices…